The sport of cross-country skiing has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, with local clubs leveraging the Olympics, the Olympic legacy at Whistler Olympic Park and the record-setting performance of national team members to increase membership for all ages.
That growth was evident at the Teck Coast Cup event at Whistler Olympic Park on Saturday with a record turnout of 227 racers for the second event in the series. Even more impressive, the event was for classic technique — a technique that is less popular than skate skiing and required athletes to have a second set of gear.
The Whistler Nordics hosted clubs from as far away as Strathcona on Vancouver Island, and individual athletes came from as far away as Canmore.
The complete results are online at www.zone4.ca, but the highlights for the home team include:
James Tait placed first in Atom Boys 2, which raced a 840-metre track around the stadium.
David Peatfield just missed the podium in Atom Boys 3, just 2.5 seconds back of third place. Kai Early-Thomas was fifth, Taylor Boehm sixth and Gardner Hartwick 10th.
In Atom Girls 1, Talia Wittenberg was first. Molly Mackie was first by over 34 seconds in Atom Girls 2, and in Atom Girls 3 Sierra Johnston finished fourth by just 1.3 seconds. Bailey Boehm was eighth.
In Pee Wee Boys 1, Kenzo Okazaki was ninth and Sean Cyr 14th. Pee Wee athletes raced 1.6km.
In Pee Wee Girls 1, Julia Hepditch was fifth. Elle Johnston was second in Pee Wee Girls 2.
David Mehta was ninth in Bantam Boys 1. Joe Davies was first in Bantam Boys 2 and the fastest Bantam overall by completing the 2.2km course in 7:41.3.
Linnea Uunila was second in Bantam Girls 1, six seconds back of first. In Bantam Girls 2, Mila Wittenberg of the Whistler Nordics was first by 45 seconds.
For Midget Boys, who raced 3.3km, Michael Murdoch and Ian Davidson were first and second, with Murdoch finishing 1:25 ahead of Davidson and Davidson finishing almost 40 seconds faster than the next racer.
In Midget Girls 1, Benita Peiffer was second and Hannah Peatfield 10th. Julia Long and Emily Quinn were fourth and eighth in Midget Girls 2.
In Juvenile Boys 2, which raced 6.6km, Austin Reith placed first overall by 1:17.
Keeley Wentzel and Paige Quinn were third and fourth in Juvenile Girls 1.
In Junior Girls, Lauren Doak and Jenya Nordin were second and third, racing 6.6km.
In Junior Women, which raced 10km, Nicki Murdoch was second overall.
In Open Men (13.2km), Thomsen D'Hont placed first overall with a gap of 30 seconds, followed by Yannick Lapierre and Martin Schrama. Camille Cheskey was fifth.
"It was fun for sure," said D'Hont after the race. "It was one of the lower-key races that we will all do this year, myself and the (Callaghan Valley Training Centre). But that being said it was a pretty good little test and I came out on top of guys I'm usually back and forth with on the NorAm circuit. It's a good sign.
"The course was really good, not too much climbing, but it was a good workout for the upper body and there was a lot of double poling."
D'Hont and the CVTC are now in Ontario for a pair of NorAm events.
In Open Women (10km) Selina Meier was first overall by three minutes.
In Masters Men (13.2km) Whistler's Brent Murdoch was sixth, Yoel Guttmann was 11th, Ian van Gruen 17th, Mick Peatfield 19th and Paul Courtney 20th.
In Masters Women (10km), Whistler's Jennifer Tabbernor and Marie-Claude Laski were second and third.
The next major cross-country event at Whistler Olympic Park is the third annual Sigge's P'ayakenstut Loppet on Feb. 23, a race that includes marathon distances (including a 50km race), plus other activities and events for families and skiers of all ages. The website is www.payak.ca.